The last few weeks of ‘Supernatural‘ has been a filler-driven ride of fun but meaningless hours (as it pertains to season ten’s narrative) but we’ve approached the halfway point, so surely there will be significant developments propelling us forward, right? Well, a bruised and bloodied Dean, Castiel revisiting the past, and Crowley still coming to terms with his mother’s appearance after centuries collectively do a bang-up job leading us into the winter hiatus.

Castiel dressing the part of ‘good dad’

Disturbing images of violence and death plague Dean, ripping him from sleep and he takes to ‘The Three Stooges’ to wipe the memories away. Sam tries living in the moment with his brother but a glimpse of the Mark of Cain reminds him just how dicey things still are with Dean. They are eventually called into the fray by Castiel on a most unusual case. Driven by Hannah’s words prior to her giving up her host and returning to Heaven, Cas reconnects with Claire Novak, his vessel’s daughter, whose life has been lacking the hugs and puppies since Jimmy Novak disappeared. Troublemaker Claire has quite a bit of understandable anger saved for Castiel and, despite him breaking her out of her group home/juvy holding after being denied custody of her, she skips out on him.

Enter the Winchesters. Though Dean’s not too pleased about being called in for a less than imperative operation (in the grand scheme of things), both he and Sam offer their support. Sam looks in on the group home angle while Cas and Dean catch up on their current situations. Though he told Sam not to worry about the Mark, Dean’s more candid with his best friend/angel. “I need you to promise me something,” he tells to Cas, “if I do go dark side, you gotta take me out…I can’t go down that road again; I can’t be that thing again.”

After running from Cas, Claire finds her way back to Dustin, her best friend from the group home, and Randy, their caretaker. Right away we see the slimey Randy is only using Claire to get money, as he owes a mysterious Salinger some dosh and the latter’s on his way to collect. So what do they plan? Nothing much…just have Claire rob a convenience store. Thanks to Sam’s work, they’re able to locate Dustin who spills the beans on Randy’s plan, allowing Cas to stop Claire before she makes the biggest mistake of her life. Once again she lets loose her pain and anger, even accusing the Winchesters of standing around while “this monster took my dad.” “I used to pray to you,” she adds and Castiel acknowledges how he heard our prayers. Even the prospect of her father in Heaven isn’t enough to heal the jagged wound of her father’s absence and Claire, despite their warnings about Randy, returns to her guardian…only to find Salinger and crew ready to rip into him.

Feeling every bit of a failed father, Castiel and the boys hit a bar where they commiserate on lost fathers and the need for strong parents. Sam and Dean remember a particularly fond memory of John Winchester being a true father to Dean, tracking him down when the latter went exploring New York. “He saved you,” Cas says after the story is done and it seems to spark the angel into action. Instead of wallowing in his guilt, Castiel searches for Claire and finds her moments after Randy has sold her off to Salinger to absolve him of his debts. Sam and Cas rush the terrified girl from the house while Dean trails behind, getting cracked on the head by Salinger. It triggers the Mark’s violence brewing under the surface and he goes postal, slashing and bashing everyone in sight. Sam hears the ruckus from the car and rushes in to find a scene of visceral slaughter, one that—unbeknownst to Sam—mirrors the visions Dean had during the first moments of the show. “Dean, tell me you had to do this,” Sam screams as he shakes his brother, “tell me it was them or you!” But he can’t. He can only see the bodies, his bloodied hands and the subsiding murder still firmly entrenched inside him.

Parent and Children

  • Rowena shackled in her son’s dungeon

    Though an important piece though secondary, Crowley (or Fergus in his human life) was dealing with his own parental issues, namely his witchy mother Rowena’s abandonment. Though he is disgusted and hurt by her (those newfound feelings he’s wearing now are a bitch) the King of Hell still can’t shake the need to have at least a modicum of her love. He kept her trapped for weeks in the dungeon but eventually frees her after killing Gerald, his number two, when Rowena frames him as one of Hell’s ‘coyotes,’ smuggling unauthorized demons topside. I’m not sure if he truly believed her but his actions seem to be more about the hope of finally garnering the love he’s always craved.

  • AKA, “Lies My Parents Told Me”—’Buffy’ fans will get that reference. ‘Supernatural,’ at its core, has always been about family and the lengths one will go to protect those of their blood. We’ve seen both Winchesters give their lives, even souls, to protect/save the other and forgive even the harshest actions. Castiel’s need to reconnect with Claire makes an interesting point on how deep familial bonds run. Were his actions fueled by his need to be absolved of guilt or were they the remnants of Jimmy’s love for his daughter?
  • The Mark returns with a vengeance, refusing to relinquish its hold on Dean as it demands bloody satiation. More and more it seems as if it’s something Dean can’t outrun or reset. It would be a fitting end, the bane of civilization’s first brothers becomes the swan song of ‘Supernatural’’sfavorite sons.